AGGRAND fertilizer is already a tremendous microorganism booster for your soil, which will provide nutritional benefits to your plants long after application. But, if you want to super-charge the microbial activity in your soil, Effective Microorganisms are a tremendous way to do that.
Without spending an inordinate amount of time on this subject (prior to providing the “activation” procedure), it does seem that I should at least provide some minimal background regarding WHAT Effective Microorganisms are and WHY you would want to use them.
Effective Microorganisms are a significant advancement in soil microbial science, and will be a tremendous advantage to you in the process to re-balance the soil profile of your lawn, garden or landscaping. They are a superb compliment to the AGGRAND product line and will only serve to improve the results you receive.
Basically, by increasing the number of and diversifying the population of microbes within your soil, you will be converting all toxins in the soil to usable organic material for your plants to utilize for better growth and health. Also, organic materials that are already present in the soil (from dead roots and dead soil organisms) will be broken down into nutrient components that the plant can readily use. In addition, by doing so, you will be improving the soil structure, making water penetration easier and water holding capacity greater.
In short, you’ll be enhancing the natural ecology of the soil in order to help it do what it is supposed to do all by its own – if left alone for a long enough period of time.
There are numerous companies out there that sell formulas that you can use to inoculate your soil with microbes. However, EM (Effective Microorganisms) is a new twist on this science that was discovered by accident – a completely symbiotic microbial formulation that rapidly replicates itself AND better allocates whatever microbial resources might be present within your soil already.
The product can be used one of two ways. Either you can apply it directly – as is – to your lawn or soil, or you can “activate” it first, effectively getting 20 times as much solution from the same bottle. Basically, you’re just providing an optimum environment for the microbes in the formulation to rapidly replicate and “energize” before you apply them to your growing plot (whether it be lawn, garden, crop, landscaping, etc.).
Activation is actually quite simple and very cost effective. Of course, if you’ve got a really small lawn, then this may not be necessary or even beneficial, since the activated products will only store for a couple months. But, for large turf areas, this activation process will save you a ton of cash and provide for even better and faster results.
However, if you buy EM-1 Effective Microorganisms and have a relatively large area to cover, the cost could be significant, if you apply it as is from the bottle. To save yourself a ton of money AND improve the result of application, activation is a really good idea. Fortunately, it’s also really simple.
Here’s the Procedure:
If you want to keep it really simple, use a clean pop bottle with a screw top. These bottles can take a tremendous amount of pressure (which will build-up within the bottle during the activation process) and can be found virtually anywhere. Just make sure the bottle is truly CLEAN.
Wash with soap and water. Rinse thoroughly. Rinse with white vinegar to remove any residue. Rinse with water to remove the vinegar. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide to kill any remaining “bugs” which might contaminate your culture. Then, rinse again with clean tap water to remove the hydrogen peroxide.
This initial cleansing step might seem like a pain, but, in actuality, it will only take a few minutes and will give you a MUCH better chance at a successful “activation” of your EM culture. In fact, you may want to consider performing this cleansing step on ALL pans, containers, funnels and utensils that you’ll be using in this process, to avoid any chance of contamination of your culture.
So, Let’s Get Started …
- Use a clean airtight plastic bottle or container or large tank with an AIR TIGHT screw-on lid.
- Use a container only slightly larger than the volume of activated EM you intend to make (larger by 10% or so).
- Create some sort of airlock or manually release pressure daily (maybe 2-3 times daily). Ie. “burp” the container regularly.
- Fresh, clean water is necessary. Tap water, even chlorinated, is fine.
- Use blackstrap molasses, not beet molasses or corn syrup which can spoil the activation.
- If using organic molasses, consider including an equal amount of vinegar to counteract pH buffers, which are likely included in the molasses.
You’re going to mix EM-1, molasses and water in a 1:1:20 relationship – for instance, 1 ounce EM-1 TO 1 ounce molasses TO 20 ounces of water. You MIGHT want to consider increasing the amount of EM-1 from one part to 1.25 parts as this seems to increase the chances of getting a “good batch”. In other words, 1.25 ounces of EM TO 1 ounce of molasses TO 20 ounces of water.
You might even consider incorporating 1 tsp of AGGRAND 4-3-3 fertilizer to super-charge your activation, but it’s not a necessity. You’ll be applying the two products together later anyway.
- Heat some of the water to 110-115 degrees F
- Pour in your molasses (using a funnel can simplify things)
- Pour some of the warm water into your bottle and dissolve molasses
- Mix in your 4-3-3 fertilizer (optional) and then mix in the EM-1
- Add the remaining water and stir and/or shake well. – There should be an airspace equivalent to about 10% of the bottle on top
- Tighten lid and keep warm (room temp – about 70 to 85 degrees F) for 1 to 2 weeks, or possibly longer**
- After the first few days, the container needs to be burped every day or two, as gases are formed that will expand the bottle.
- The mixture should be stirred and/or shaken daily if possible.
- After 3-5 days (sometimes sooner), you’ll want to check the pH with pH paper
- Shoot for a pH of 3.5 to 3.7, maintained for 5-7 days. At this point, the “activation” is done.
- It should have a sweet smell similar to that of the original EM (it may smell a bit when you initially take off the cap, but if that persists for more than 10 minutes of the cap being off, or if the pH is 3.9 or over, it should not be used; note that if you add fish and/or kelp, it may have a smell to it, but that is okay).
Once the activation is complete, you can store the product for up to two months – sometimes longer, as long as there is no air in the container. So, either activate TWO bottles and then use the second to top off the first for storage (then use up what remains of the second in short order for best results) or find some way to suck the air out of your container and seal it. Store it at room temp.
Larger activation batches ferment more quickly than smaller ones, so, for instance, if you were to double the “recipe” above, you might find your activation completes more quickly. In fact, in some batches, your “pH drop” can occur within 24 hours – although 3-5 days is more common.
THE NO “BURP” METHOD: If you don’t want to have to burp your culture constantly, consider either buying an air-lock or making your own. To make your own, simply find a two-liter bottle that has a removable rubber seal in the cap. Drill a small 3mm hole through this seal and through the plastic cap.
Now, remove the rubber seal and place a small round piece of balloon or rubber glove into the cap. Then, re-insert the rubber seal. Now, use a needle to poke a few tiny holes through the portion of the balloon that is visible through the hole you drilled in the cap.
Screw the cap onto your 2-liter container – checking to make sure that the piece of balloon has not bunched up as you twisted on the cap. If not, all is well, and you have created your own DIY air-lock. You should not have to worry about burping your container at all.
As CO2 gases build-up in the container, your tiny pin-pricks in the balloon will allow them to escape. However, the air pressure outside of the container is NOT high enough to cause outside air to be let in. Thus, no contamination can occur to mess up your batch.
A Special Note: It’s worth nothing that you should probably sterilize all of the air-lock & cap materials/components so as to avoid any bacterial contamination from the start. Sterilize all parts before you begin and then sterilize the final result when you are finished before installing the air-lock cap on your 2-liter container.
OK, So Then What?
Well, you use it, of course. You want to take that new activated EM and spray it wherever you’re trying to grow something.
Use 15 oz / 1000 square feet or 5 gallons per acre of your Activated EM-1. If applying by itself, apply at about a 1:100 solution rate with water. Applying more EM will not hurt anything. Applying multiple times per season will only be a benefit.
However, if using organic growing methods, you should reach a point very quickly where there will be no need to continue applying the EM product since only so much microbial activity can be supported within a certain area. There’s just not enough “food” to go around.
Moreover, price is certainly a factor that should be considered. EM is a great product, but, if applied at the rates and frequencies suggested, you’d go broke. Use common sense and understand that continued use of the AGGRAND Fertilizer products will only serve to enhance your results and continue to increase microbial activity in the soil.
Using EM with AGGRAND Organic 4-3-3 Fertilizer
If applying with AGGRAND fertilizer in order to provide an immediate source of all-natural nutrients and plant hormones, consider using equal parts 4-3-3 and EM in your mix (although ANY amount of EM you can include will be beneficial, even if at considerably lower rates). So, if you’re going to apply AGGRAND 4-3-3 at 1 gallon per acre mixed with 30 gallons of water, consider including 1 gallon of Activated EM in that same mix to apply to that acre.
Hope that this helps you on your road to the best lawn, garden or field crop you’ve ever had in your life. The combination of EM and AGGRAND is one that simply cannot be beat. You will be shocked at the result.